The NASCAR effect: How racers turned Lake Norman into trophy home heaven

Area is home to megastars like Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Ricky Stenhouse with 355 Pelham Lane (Getty, Corcoran HM Properties)
Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Ricky Stenhouse with 355 Pelham Lane (Getty, Corcoran HM Properties)

While NASCAR is huge in Lake Norman, N.C., the only paint that’s likely to be traded is for drivers’ newly built or renovated luxury homes.

Over the past decade, many of the sport’s richest drivers have moved to the area about 20 miles from Charlotte, thanks in large part to the proximity of Charlotte Motor Speedway, a major track, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NASCAR supernovas like Dale Ernhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin live in the area, while star Joey Logano recently sold his Cornelius estate for $4.3 million.

Earnhardt, who has retired from driving but runs his own NASCAR team as well as serves as a commentator for NBC Sports, lives in a four-bedroom home that is situated on a 300-acre estate outside of Mooresville, which is called “Race City USA” due to having more than 50 motorsport manufacturers and teams with over 2,500 employees.

“All of the employees, drivers, mechanics, everybody really involved in the industry mostly lives in this area. It’s just become the hub,” Earnhardt told WSJ. “It’s just a coincidence that I was born and raised here but I suppose that if NASCAR was located in another part of the country that’s where I’d be.”

Earnhardt’s estate includes an 800-foot treehouse and a replica of an old western town (with sheriff’s office, saloon, church and jail cells) in the backyard, which is used to host birthday parties and charitable events. The property also has about 70 acres of wooded space for four-wheel trails.

Hamlin, meanwhile, has a 30,000-square-foot lakefront mansion — estimated to have cost $15 million to $20 million to construct — in Cornelius. The home includes an indoor basketball court, a lounge with multiple TV screens and an area where Hamlin displays his myriad trophies and race memorabilia. The Toyota race car Hamlin drove to victory in the 2016 Daytona 500 is on display in a glass garage bay.

Driver Ricky Stenhouse’s 9-000-square-foot home, with an outdoor pavilion and infinity pool, is listed for $16 million, which, if fetched, would be a record for the area. Over the past 20 years the home has been owned by three NASCAR drivers: Stenhouse, Ernie Irvan and Joe Nemechek.

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Real-estate agent Josh Tucker, of Corcoran HM Properties in Mooresville, said NASCAR is the main driver of the market.

“It seems like a lot of people I either represent on the buy side or the sell side end up having some connection down the line to NASCAR,” he told WSJ.

Any listing over $2 million in the area is likely to draw interest from a buyer with some link to NASCAR, real-estate agent Reed Jackson of Ivester Jackson told the outlet.

Drivers mostly want garage space and lakefront docks, Tucker suggested.

“Just like they love fast cars, they also love fast boats,” he added.

Accessibility to an airport as well as Charlotte and Concord is also among the other appealing aspects of the area, according to WSJ.

The median sale price for a home in Cornelius is $476,000, according to, up from $222,000 in 2012. The median sale price for a home in Mooresville during the same time has jumped from $196,000 to $428,000.

— Ted Glanzer